Denver uses shame tactics to stop prostitution
To discourage local prostitution, the city and county of Denver are broadcasting mug shots of men convicted of soliciting prostitutes. “Johns TV,” which airs twice daily, debuted on July 25 on a local cable channel. The television show is supplemented by a Web site, www.denvergov.org/johnstv.
“The city has given ample warning to those who choose to engage in the crime of prostitution,” Mayor Wellington Webb said in a press release announcing the debut of the new service. “If you choose to risk being arrested for prostitution, if you choose to risk catching a sexually transmitted disease, you now also choose to take the risk of having your picture appear on TV and on the city’s Web site for the whole world to see.”
The city and county of Denver follow in the footsteps of other cities — including Aurora, Colo.; Orlando, Fla.; Oklahoma City; St. Paul, Minn.; and Kansas City, Mo. — that print photographs of “johns” in newspapers, on TV or on the Web. They began the practice following requests from residents to help drive prostitutes out of neighborhoods.
“This always has been a quality-of-life issue,” mayoral spokesman Andrew Hudson told the Denver Post. “The real victims are the neighborhoods that have to endure prostitute-related activities.”
Original plans for the broadcasts included mug shots of convicted prostitutes, but, after reviewing the show and the Web site, the mayor felt that was unnecessary. Instead, the TV show and Web site provide information aimed at prostitutes about substance abuse programs, job training programs, health care services and safe houses for abused women.
The cable TV program lasts about 15 minutes and is run back-to-back to make up a 30-minute program, according to the newspaper. The 30-minute show airs once each morning and evening. The Web site, like the cable program, displays the johns’ mug shots, names, birth dates and dates of convictions. The photos are updated monthly.